'Average guy' comes out on top in ad auditions

March 25, 1994|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,Sun Staff Writer

Get used to him. You'll be seeing him all over Baltimore television and cable channels and hearing him on radio next month.

"Please don't be frightened. I'm not going to hurt anybody," he says.

Philadelphia-native Mark Sarian, a 26-year-old living in Canton, will perform in a series of 30-second commercials promoting downtown Baltimore businesses and attractions. Mr. Sarian beat out more than 300 contestants who auditioned this month to be the host of the "Downtown Baltimore Show."

"I won the human lottery," says Mr. Sarian, manager of Britches Great Outdoors clothing store in Bethesda.

"The Downtown Baltimore Show" is the centerpiece of a large-scale advertising campaign from Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, a group of public and private interests. Essentially, the idea of the campaign is to sell Baltimoreans on the virtues of downtown.

In the commercials, Mr. Sarian will appear as the host of a talk show that will be set up at various downtown locations. A co-host and guests also will be featured in the 30-second, scripted spots to air next month. Taping begins today.

So, why Mark Sarian?

"He looks like a guy from our town," says audition judge John Parlato, creative director at W. B. Doner & Co, which created the advertising campaign.

"If Baltimore is into pushing the average-looking guy, I guess I'm the guy," Mr. Sarian says.

What a great gig for an amateur stand-up comic who has "been on the stage since I was 10," Mr. Sarian says. His friends nudged him into auditioning March 13 for the host job. His try-out was near the end of the two-day auditions. He doesn't remember a thing he said.

"He was instantly likable, and he has a great natural ability that few people do," Says Mr. Parlato. "It's called timing."

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